I first learned about Cera Gibson, whose musical talent I’m about to gush over for a couple of minutes, from the YouTube comments section under an ad for headphones.
Comments are not often known for being helpful or kind, so it’s exciting that I can say I actually learned something positive from one. The specific video in question was this piece of marketing for AKG’s excellent K371 headphones:
I wasn’t completely sure at first glance if the people featured in the video were real musicians, or actors playing musicians. The recording sessions looked real, but headphone marketing has an addiction to using celebrity endorsements that don’t always make sense for an audio product. Thankfully, someone excitedly shouted-out Cera Gibson in the comments. I clicked over to Spotify, and thanks to her powerful and evocative voice, I instantly found a new favorite artist.
The first track I listened to was her recent heart-wrenching cover of Britney Spears’ “Oops!…I did it again.” Gibson’s rich vocal performance takes an iconic bright pop dance song and turns it into an enchanting listen that’s enhanced by wonderful mixing. The slightly distorted guitar is stylish without excess, the bass notes are perfectly balanced and deep, and her awesome voice track rings through cleanly in spite of some light multi-track stereo embellishment and occasional demon-like filtered backup voicing.
Her most recent single is called “Sad Bitch”, and it’s a wonderful blend of catchy style and powerful personal lyrics. It also has a fun low- budget video that’s aware of what it wants to be, in the best possible way. The use of repeated lines that reverberate into the distance makes it feel like a modernized 80’s pop anthem, but with a dark edge. It’d be right at home echoing out of the back door of a club into a rainy neon-soaked street.
My personal favorite track of Gibson’s is probably the 2019 single “In the Dark.” It features a slow, eerie melody backed up with effective instrumentation. Its restrained, relaxed pacing is a nice relief in a world obsessed with finding the next upbeat pop hit. It would be the perfect song for the end credits of the middle chapter of a film or video game trilogy. Her 2019 EP Crushed Velvet is also worth a full listen, as it ends strong with “Ride,” followed by a lilting reprise of the song’s guitars and vocals that brilliantly leaves the mood of the EP hanging in your brain. It’s a wonderful example of album sequencing, an art that I wish more current releases emphasized.
Thank goodness I watched that random piece of AKG headphone marketing. If you’re looking for a soulful, powerful, unique voice from modern music, you should absolutely check out Cera Gibson. She’s been singing some great stuff on her Instagram during the current shelter-in-place situation, including a new song she wrote right before recording it, and I’m looking forward to whatever her next release will be.